The Cultural Synergist - Issue 3 April 2008

Welcome to The Cultural Synergist

Hi ,

Welcome to the Cultural Synergies April 2008 newsletter.

Kind regards

The Cultural Synergies Team
April 2008

 Coaching Across Cultures
As part of my �growth� strategy I recently participated in a three-day course -�Coaching Across Cultures� with Phillippe Rosinksi and Geoffrey Abbot.  Having been a �Cultural Coach� for some years now, I was looking for some useful new insights that could be valuable.  It was three days well spent. I met some fantastic people over the three days, from a variety of different countries and I learned some new techniques. It was also valuable to converse with and observe other coaches, particularly in the role-plays. 

I found the role-plays an important part of the learning process for me.  Upon reflection, both during and after one particular role-play, I recognized the importance of questions.  During the activity I became much more conscious of the value of asking well-formulated questions and the temptation to provide answers.  I realized that not only are questions a valuable resource but they can also impact and reflect on the quality of communication that you have with people. 

As many of us know, working across cultures usually involves a different set of challenges than those we experience when working locally.  Some of those challenges can stem from language and communication styles such as speaking in metaphors, using stories or direct language to get our points across.  

When we are working across borders, particularly virtually, we need to keep in mind that there are many different types of communication styles � questions being one.  Questions come in many different forms; open and closed questions, questions that are aimed at getting certain information, questions that are reflective, or the question that is aimed at getting an opinion.  When structuring a question, it is useful to consider its purpose and to remember that the respondent will be receiving and answering it from within their own cultural context.

The course reinforced for me that one of the fundamental benefits of Cross-cultural coaching is the unique sounding board that it offers to managers and leaders.  Often it is the communication skills, particularly how to ask good questions and how to listen, that need to be recognized and developed. Effective communication is critical in order to work on either side of the Cultural Mirror�. Without good-quality communication you cannot understand, embrace and leverage on the cultural variations that exist in most facets of today�s business operations.

 Recommended Book
Coaching Across Cultures: New Tools for Leveraging National, Corporate and Professional Differences, Rosinski, P. (Nicholas Brealey Publishing) 2003.

To my knowledge �Coaching Across Cultures� is the only book that brings together coaching and culture. 

As leadership has undergone some enormous changes over recent years and as the development and retention of leaders becomes ever more important, the challenges of working in a multicultural environment has become a key focus; and as such this was a much needed book.

It is an outstanding book that blends leadership, coaching and diversity.  The book is structured in 3 parts.  Part 1 focuses on Rosinski�s views regarding the fundamentals of coaching.  Part 2 examines how culture can be leveraged across both countries and corporations; and part 3 encourages coaches and their clients to conduct a self-assessment, articulate objectives and how to establish some guidelines for working toward the target objectives.

I recommend it to anyone who is interested in cross-cultural issues and particularly those who might be leading multicultural teams.


'The Invisible Elephant - Exploring Cultural Awareness', 2nd Edition by Tom Verghese

Many aspects of culture are invisible, yet culture has an enormous impact on our lives. Like an Invisible Elephant, if ignored these aspects can lead to misunderstanding, stress and conflict. Alternatively, if attention is given to the Invisible Elephant, it can enhance productivity, improve teamwork and create more joy in our lives.

Book testimonial by Asma Ghabshi, Learning And Development Manager, Shell Oman: 

"The Invisible Elephant made my perspective of my national culture in comparison to my personal culture more visible. It has given me a deep insight into dealing with people of different cultural backgrounds."

'Pillars of Growth - Strategies for Leading Sustainable Growth' - Book by Tom Verghese, Kerry Larkan, Steven Howard and Brad Tonini

Written with the business leaders and entrepreneurs of Asia in mind, 'Pillars of Growth' provides a road map to assist you in thinking through four critical concerns that impact the sustainable growth of every business.

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